283799 Designer Surfaces for the Study and Treatment of Human Injury and Disease

Sunday, October 28, 2012
Hall B (Convention Center )
Anita Shukla, Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, TX

In my future independent research program, I would like to focus on developing responsive and efficient biomaterials for the fundamental study and treatment of human injury and disease.  During my Ph.D. in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I developed expertise in the design of biomaterials for drug delivery.  I focused on developing effective local delivery methods for multiple therapeutics over medically relevant timescales, enabling the treatment of cellular dysfunction while preventing drug toxicity.  As an alternative to conventional systemic drug administration, I designed unique layer-by-layer assembled degradable polymer multilayer films as medical device coatings.  Film architecture, assembly technique, and secondary interactions between film components were optimized to create active degradable films.  These films were successfully engineered to deliver agents ranging in both chemical functionality and therapeutic properties, from small molecules to proteins, aimed at alleviating infection, biofilm formation, inflammation, and hemorrhage.  Having developed biomaterials based approaches for disease treatment in my doctoral work, I realized that the design of such treatments is limited by an understanding of the cellular systems which are affected by them.  Therefore, I decided to focus on acquiring expertise in designing materials to study fundamental cell behavior in my postdoctoral research. 

As a postdoc in the Department of Bioengineering at Rice University, I am studying the effects of cytoskeletal tension on human mesenchymal stem cell differentiation.  I am developing biologically inspired micropatterned protein surfaces with the aims of locally regulating cytoskeletal tension to direct the differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells towards desired lineages.  This work has tremendous potential to impact the design of biomaterials and tissue engineering scaffolds for regenerative medicine while simultaneously contributing to the fundamental understanding of stem cell mechanobiology.  In my future research program, I will apply ideas from polymer self-assembly, cellular mechanobiology, and the study of molecular interactions to create novel responsive and efficient biomaterials.

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